Last year’s Malabar Shopping Festival had made the city of Calicut the center of attraction of the state. This year, city is again in focus but for wrong reasons.
The fire accident at the heart of the city – ‘Mittayi Theruvu’ has left the city weeping. Mittayi Theruvu, the commercial headquarters of the city is indeed the spinal cord of the Calicut. This narrow network of streets has by virtue become the trademark of the city of Calicut. Any foreign visitor may forget the name of the city but never the buzzling “Mittayi Theruvu”.
The street sells anything one wants or any thing that man has ever invented (both original and duplicate). The close knitted and well networked but narrow streets and ignorable traffic which is almost nil most of the time has made it the most comfortable one-stop-shopping spot in the city. The cut-throat competition between the shops which are usually found in clusters of similar business, keep the price under control and the selection at its best.
The sellers on the footpath cater to the demand of cheap products and the well-established and branded outlets cater to the taste of the high-class of the society. Thus you can buy anything from a safety pin to ultramodern laptops at prices your pockets can afford from these streets which has obviously made the street the most preferred one stop shopping spot of the visitors. These resultant huge flow of potential customers has made the street the most sought after venue for traders to base their business in the city.
To garnish all these, Mittayi Theruvu is an unavoidable spot for canvassing and advertising for the corporate as well as the political parties making it the most happening place of the city.
The relevance of Mittayi Theruvu is much more than that of a commercial hotspot in an era where the corporate giants are tightening their grips on retail marketing sending the traditional retailers on a run for their money. Mittayi Theruvu is a thriving example of the strength of unity. Though the shops are in sharp competition, they are one when anything threatens the street. Though there are some large names in the street, the major part of the total business of the street is enjoyed by the small individual retailers. Mittai Theruvu had been a major reason for the hesistance shown by the large Malls in setting their foot in Calicut.
But the situation is changing now. Work of the buildings which are to house huge malls are progressing in good pace. Many other branded outlets retailers are planning to set their camp in and around these malls thus creating parallel hotspots. The fire accident must be reviewed in this context. This is not to suggest the involvement of corporate giants. However, the situation arising out of the fire is going to benefit them.
Mittayi Theruvu will never be the same again. The uncomfortable emptiness at the ‘Moidheen Palli’ end of Mittai Theruvu was never expected by the Kozhikodans. The fire has swept clear this part of the city. The Kerala Stationery Mart building in which the fire and explosion took place has already been demolished. The fire is believed to have caused the end of around 50 – 80 shops in the area. The railway station end of Mittai Theruvu has already been changing. Huge shopping malls have taken the place of the old small shops and now ‘Moidheen Palli’ road is also empty. One wonders what is next?